By Tony Attwood
On 24 November 1996 Arsène Wenger took charge of his first derby. It ended Arsenal 3 Tottenham 1. It was a victory those of us there celebrated at considerable length as I recall, because Arsenal had not beaten Tottenham in over 3 years and Tottenham were unbeaten at Highbury in the league since September 1991.
Here is a quick run down of the results v Tottenham in the years before Mr Wenger’s arrival from the 11v11 wesite…
|18 Oct 1989||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||L||2-1||League Division One|
|20 Jan 1990||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||W||1-0||League Division One|
|01 Sep 1990||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||D||0-0||League Division One|
|12 Jan 1991||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||D||0-0||League Division One|
|14 Apr 1991||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||L||3-1||FA Cup|
|01 Dec 1991||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||W||2-0||League Division One|
|22 Feb 1992||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||D||1-1||League Division One|
|12 Dec 1992||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||L||1-0||Premier League|
|04 Apr 1993||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||W||1-0||FA Cup|
|11 May 1993||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||L||1-3||Premier League|
|16 Aug 1993||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||W||0-1||Premier League|
|06 Dec 1993||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||D||1-1||Premier League|
|02 Jan 1995||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||L||1-0||Premier League|
|29 Apr 1995||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||D||1-1||Premier League|
|18 Nov 1995||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||L||2-1||Premier League|
|15 Apr 1996||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||D||0-0||Premier League|
16 games and three wins. It is hard to imagine that today against Tottenham, but that is what we had just sat through. 16 games, three wins.
Worse, there was none of this long-term always finishing above Tottenham sort of thing. In 1995/6, the season before Mr Wenger started the league ended like this
So yes, in the year before Mr Wenger we had finished above the Tiny Totts. But the season before that, 1994/5 we had to endure finishing 11 points below Tottenham
|8||Queens Park Rangers||42||17||9||16||61||59||+2||60|
Go back one more year to 1993/4 and yes we did then finish above Tottenham…
|9||Queens Park Rangers||42||16||12||14||62||61||+1||60|
|13||West Ham United||42||13||13||16||47||58||-11||52|
But go back one more year again and just how up and down the rivalry was becomes clear. Here is 1992/3
|5||Queens Park Rangers||42||17||12||13||63||55||+8||63|
You get the picture – it was up and down in terms of finishing above Tottenham, while in terms of getting the better of them in derby games, it was pretty awful.
So what happened after Mr Wenger?
We know that the Tinies have gone through so many managers and temporary managers it is hard to count them all, let alone remember them. We know that they have not finished above us since 1994/5. But what of your actual results?
|24 Nov 1996||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||W||3-1||Premier League|
|15 Feb 1997||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||D||0-0||Premier League|
|30 Aug 1997||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||D||0-0||Premier League|
|28 Dec 1997||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||D||1-1||Premier League|
|14 Nov 1998||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||D||0-0||Premier League|
|05 May 1999||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||W||1-3||Premier League|
|07 Nov 1999||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||L||2-1||Premier League|
|19 Mar 2000||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||W||2-1||Premier League|
|18 Dec 2000||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||D||1-1||Premier League|
|31 Mar 2001||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||W||2-0||Premier League|
|08 Apr 2001||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||W||2-1||FA Cup|
|17 Nov 2001||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||D||1-1||Premier League|
|06 Apr 2002||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||W||2-1||Premier League|
|16 Nov 2002||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||W||3-0||Premier League|
|15 Dec 2002||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||D||1-1||Premier League|
|08 Nov 2003||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||W||2-1||Premier League|
|25 Apr 2004||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||D||2-2||Premier League|
|13 Nov 2004||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||W||4-5||Premier League|
|25 Apr 2005||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||W||1-0||Premier League|
|29 Oct 2005||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||D||1-1||Premier League|
|22 Apr 2006||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||D||1-1||Premier League|
|02 Dec 2006||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||W||3-0||Premier League|
|24 Jan 2007||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||D||2-2||League Cup|
|31 Jan 2007||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||W||3-1||League Cup|
|21 Apr 2007||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||D||2-2||Premier League|
|15 Sep 2007||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||W||1-3||Premier League|
|22 Dec 2007||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||W||2-1||Premier League|
|09 Jan 2008||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||D||1-1||League Cup|
|22 Jan 2008||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||L||5-1||League Cup|
|29 Oct 2008||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||D||4-4||Premier League|
|08 Feb 2009||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||D||0-0||Premier League|
|31 Oct 2009||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||W||3-0||Premier League|
|14 Apr 2010||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||L||2-1||Premier League|
|21 Sep 2010||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||W||1-4||League Cup|
|20 Nov 2010||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||L||2-3||Premier League|
|20 Apr 2011||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||D||3-3||Premier League|
|02 Oct 2011||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||L||2-1||Premier League|
|26 Feb 2012||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||W||5-2||Premier League|
|17 Nov 2012||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||W||5-2||Premier League|
|03 Mar 2013||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||L||2-1||Premier League|
|01 Sep 2013||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||W||1-0||Premier League|
|04 Jan 2014||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||W||2-0||FA Cup|
|16 Mar 2014||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||W||0-1||Premier League|
|27 Sep 2014||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||D||1-1||Premier League|
|07 Feb 2015||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||L||2-1||Premier League|
|23 Sep 2015||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||W||1-2||League Cup|
|08 Nov 2015||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||D||1-1||Premier League|
|05 Mar 2016||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||D||2-2||Premier League|
Yes you read that right. Tottenham have won seven games. Out of 48.
So Mr Wenger brought us out of a period in which Tottenham and Arsenal could alternate in terms of which club ended up highest in the league, and in which we won three in sixteen, to one in which Tottenham have won seven in 48.
Now I understand that there are some people who don’t really rate the rivalry with Tottenham. Some point to the fact that our form against Chelsea has fallen in recent years so I am just picking numbers to suit me. But I can only say, the results against the Tinies matters to me. And I think it is fair to say results against Arsenal matters to a lot of Tottenham fans as well as to Arsenal fans.
I was brought up on Devonshire Hill Lane, which might not mean much to you, but if you know the area you will know it is the road that runs parallel to White Hart Lane, 100 yards to the north. And if that leads you to think that maybe I should have become a Tottenham supporter, the fact is that which team north Londoners supported (at least in my youth) depended not so much on the exact location of your home but very much on your family background. I had both parents and both sets of grandparents pointing me in one direction only. The people who lived in the little flat below the one I was brought up in were Tottenham. Next door was Tottenham, beyond them it was Arsenal.
But there is something else. During Mr Wenger’s reign we have had two big issues – one is the rise of the super-financed clubs, such as Chelsea and Manchester City (who were given a double blessing, first in terms of being gifted a new stadium by the state and second being able to spend so much money that in the end even Uefa were forced to act and issue a tiddly fine and player penalty under the minimalistic FFP rules to try and reign them in).
Arsenal on the other hand, built and paid for their own new stadium. Straightforward commercial sponsorship deals.
And in case that still doesn’t seem too much of a deal to you, Arsenal not only managed to pay for it, but also managed to avoid the traditional new stadium catastrophe that State Aid Utd (the club previously known as WHU) are now delightfully engaged in.
Consider this by way of example…
In the summer of 2003 Man City moved from Maine Road to the stadium the state kindly donated to them – a stadium like WHU’s stadium which was paid for (in part) by me and mugs like me. The UK tax payers.
Here is Man City’s record over the six years after they moved into their new stadium that I helped finance, and before Arab finance based on a state where women have no rights and slave labour is employed, arrived in the club as the prime source of finance in 2008.
|Season||Lge position||FA Cup exit||Lge Cup exit||Uefa Cup exit||Top scorer||Goals|
Can you imagine what the anti-Wengerians would have said if we had suffered the sort of collapse? If we had had four years in a row in which our top scorer reached between seven and 11 goals?
There is a magnitude in what Mr Wenger has achieved which is far beyond any of the nice little pieces written up in the press this week to celebrate his 20 years at Arsenal. Keeping the club in the top four and thus in Europe year after year during the period after moving stadia has totally reversed the norm in football experiences. The norm is relegation.
What is happening to State Aid United at the Tax Payers Stadium is commonplace for clubs with new stadia. I have run my little chart of new stadia developments before, but in case you missed it, here it is again
|Riverside Stadium||Middlesbrough||1995||Relegated 1997|
|Britannia Stadium||Stoke City||1997||Relegated 1998|
|Reebok Stadium||Bolton Wand||1997||Relegated 1998|
|Pride Park Stadium||Derby County||1997||Relegated 2002|
|Stadium of Light||Sunderland||1997||Relegated 1997|
|Madejski Stadium||Reading||1998||Releg to D3 ’98|
|JJB Stadium||Wigan Athletic||1999||Won D3 2003|
|St Mary’s Stadium||Southampton||2001||Relegated 2005|
|KC Stadium||Hull City||2002||Promoted from D3 2005|
|Walkers Stadium||Leicester City||2002||Relegated 2004, returned to win league 2016.|
|Etihad Stadium||Manchester City||2003||Won League 2012|
|Liberty Stadium||Swansea City||2005||Prom D4 2005|
|Emirates Stadium||Arsenal||2006||Top 4 throughout|
|Cardiff City Stadium||Cardiff City||2009||Won D2 2012, but relegated again.|
Stadia in italics have since had their name changed as the club tries to get out of trouble.
Of course some negative-depressives will continue to want Mr Wenger to leave, and will continue to decry the achievements of the years after the building of the stadium, but history shows that what Arsenal has achieved is remarkable.
Quite what will happen to Tottenham and eventually Chelsea as they work on their stadia upgrades we must wait and see. Maybe rebuilding a stadium won’t lead to the same effects as having a new stadium. It will be interesting to see.